THE BURNING (2014)
aka EL ARDOR
Written and directed by Pablo Fendrik
After initially refusing to sell his land, a group of mercenaries in the Argentinian jungle force farmer Joao to sign over his property before killing him and kidnapping his daughter. Hiding inside the shack, Kai, a young man who’s also suffered the loss of his home because of the mercenaries, decides to hunt the men down, rescue Joao’s daughter Vania and get back the signed contract.
Drama The Burning highlights the plight of jungle residents losing their homes to rich businessmen who won’t take no for an answer. Though the film concentrates on the humans, it also touches upon the destruction of the habitat of the animals that reside there too including a tiger which makes a few appearances throughout the movie. Enforcing the greed of the businessmen are a group of ruthless mercenaries who think nothing of burning these people’s homes down to the ground and killing if it means getting what their boss desires. A determined young man who’s already suffered at the hands of the mercs cannot stand to see another family’s life ruined and seeks justice for the family and what they stand for.
The film is beautifully shot with the exotic sounds of the jungle emerging from each speaker via 5.1 audio. It’s so easy to get wrapped up and in the shoes of these people. However, it doesn’t quite pull at the heart strings as it should and the lack of personality and depth of the characters and action means that quite often the movie drifts to its ultimate conclusion. Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto got it so right and I know that The Burning is meant to be a more realistic representation but as a movie it just doesn’t have the same oomph that others have. A film needs to entertain and bring out emotions in a person and although The Burning contains some despicable human beings, they’re still not nasty enough for the viewer to passionately hate.
Gael Garcia Bernal and Alice Braga put in decent enough performances as Kai and Vania respectively as do the other cast members but they’re hardly given much to sink their teeth into. The dialogue is sparse and there’s not much to do other than trapse through the jungle, attack one another or brood in the sunshine. A romantic tryst between Bernal and Braga feels as though its over before it’s even begun as the chemistry between each of the characters feels nothing more than acquaintance-like.
I cannot fault the style of this film as it’s the major selling point of the movie. Coupled with the audio, the stunning shots really capture the beauty of the jungle and the habitat of so many that these men want to destroy. However, the rest of the film feels rather bland in comparison and it doesn’t offer anything to make it stand out or create an impression.
A visually appealing film with an important message but ultimately a forgettable one.